wikiHow to Confront Someone Who Has Been Gossiping About You

Three Parts:Determining if the Gossip Really HappenedConfronting the GossiperMending a Relationship After Gossip

Even though nobody likes to be gossiped about, gossip is a natural part of human societies. People talk about other people for all kinds of reasons, from insecurities and depression to conformity and a simple desire for entertainment. It can hurt to be the subject of gossip, no matter what the reason, and it can be especially painful if the perpetrator is your friend. Confronting someone who has gossiped about you can help to clear the air and allow you to set the record straight and move on.

Part 1
Determining if the Gossip Really Happened

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    Get the facts about the situation. Sometimes we hear about gossip through gossip, and it might not be true. It doesn't pay to go barging in angry only to discover you've gotten the wrong idea about what was said. In fact, there's a chance that the person you think started the gossip may not have been involved at all. Be absolutely certain before accusing or confronting the person.
    • In addition, even if they did say things, consider what they actually meant. They may have been misinterpreted or they may have said something off-the-cuff without meaning anything nasty. Sometimes, things just come across the wrong way. In this case, you might want to cut the person some slack.
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    Talk to those who heard the gossip. Before you confront the gossiper, you need to find out where the talk originated and see if that person was truly involved. If you found out through a friend, ask him who he heard it from. Then, go to that person, and do the same thing.
    • Try to piece together different angles and possible misunderstandings about what was said and by whom. Try to keep your emotions out of the situation as much as possible; don't get mad or let your feelings be hurt until you're sure you know what happened.
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    Give a friend the benefit of the doubt. If you know this person and trust him, and have had no reason to think he would gossip about you, there is a chance that this situation is not what it appears to be.
    • If this is a friend and it is out of character for him to gossip about you, consider other possible scenarios: the person who told you may be trying to stir up drama, or may be trying to retaliate against you or your friend by causing problems between you. Maybe your friend was misheard or misunderstood.
    • Be considerate of the person's state of mind. Sometimes people going through hard times say and do things that are out of character. For example, people who struggle with depression, anxiety, difficult home or work circumstances, or other situations may spread rumors about other people as a way to relieve their own stress. This isn't an excuse, but it may explain otherwise unusual behavior from someone you thought you could rely upon.
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    Talk to the gossiper's friends or family. If you are still uncertain whether the gossip took place or why, and you want more information before confronting the gossiper, try talking to the people that he is close to. You might get some insight about his state of mind, any issues he has with you that he hasn't disclosed, or other considerations you hadn't thought of.
    • Try to keep this conversation as low key as possible so that the friend doesn't tell the gossiper you are asking around. You might try saying, "Hey, I was wondering if you knew if Mark is doing ok. Someone told me that he's been saying some things about me and I was worried about him since that's not like him." Then, at the end of your conversation, you can ask for confidentiality: "I'm planning on talking to Mark later about this, so I'd really appreciate if you didn't talk to him about it first. I don't want him to think I'm upset with him."
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    Think about your goal before confronting someone. Confronting someone for gossiping about you takes a lot of emotional energy, can cause a rift between the two of you, and can make you seem overly sensitive. You have to decide that the gossip was a big enough deal that it warrants a confrontation. Having a goal in mind before you confront someone can help you keep the conversation on target and make sure you address all of your concerns, even if you feel emotional, nervous, or stressed out during the conversation.
    • Remember, your goal is not to pick a fight or cause more drama with this person. You simply want to clear your name and make sure no one spreads more gossip about you.
    • If the person is your friend, you probably also want to be sure he knows that his actions hurt you and be sure that he is not upset with you for some reason you don’t know about.

Part 2
Confronting the Gossiper

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    Avoid making a scene in front of other people. You might be upset with this person; you might even be completely furious. But having a big blowout will just make you look dramatic and might even confirm some of the gossip in the eyes of onlookers. Handle the situation with maturity: find a suitable private space to discuss the problem alone.
    • Tell the person that you need to talk in private, but try not to sound overly upset or dramatic.[1] For example, you might simply say, "Hey Mike, when you have a minute, I'd like to talk to you about something. No rush."
    • You can also try catching up to the person when he is alone (for example, walking to his car after work) or calling him on the phone if you don't think you'll have any other suitable time to talk alone. Just be sure that you'll have enough time to talk about the situation and come to an understanding without feeling rushed.
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    Be direct. State the rumor or gossip that has reached you and ask the person if he said those things and why. Try to be clear, but say as little as possible; too much information can be overwhelming, and the gossiper may have trouble processing everything you're saying.
    • Try to stick to the facts and avoid emotional words or accusations.[2] For example, you might say, "Yesterday Deborah told me that you said I made out with Jim at the office party. Is that true?"
    • Don't yell, cry, or stand too close to the person. Try to have a confident body posture-- stand up tall with your shoulders squared, legs firmly planted about shoulder distance apart, and hands by your side or perhaps on your hips.[3] Stand directly in front of the person but not so close that you're in his face. Look him in the eye, but try to keep your face from appearing angry or threatening. Remember your goal here is not to intimidate or scare him, but just to get the truth.
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    Wait for his response. Give him a chance to process what you've said and explain the situation before you say more.
    • Some people are afraid of confrontation and will not know how to respond if you confront them. In fact some people have such intense social anxiety that a confrontation can cause a full-blown panic attack. If the person seems nervous, confused, or is struggling to find words, it might be because he feels guilty about what he's done, but it also could be simple social anxiety.[4] Try to be patient.
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    Be prepared for denials. It is pretty unlikely that this person will say, "Oh yes, I did gossip about you! Sorry about that!" More likely, he will deny it and say, "I have no idea who started that rumor, but it certainly wasn't me!" Unless you have proof, it might be pointless to press the issue at this point.
    • If the person denies having gossiped about you, let it go, but be sure you emphasize why this matters so much to you. For example, you might say, "Thanks. I'm sorry if I offended you by suspecting that you'd gossip about me. I'm pretty protective of my reputation, since I feel like I have to really prove myself around here. I just wanted to be sure that there was nothing between us that needed to be fixed."
    • Instead, be proud of yourself for having the courage to confront the person, and whether or not they are telling you the truth, know that you have sent a strong message that you are a confident person who is not afraid to set the record straight.
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    Ask open-ended questions. If you want to have a discussion that really gets at the heart of the matter, you need to ask questions that allow the gossiper to tell the whole story. Try to avoid simple "yes/no" questions and instead go for open-ended questions like "Why did you say that?"
    • Think of yourself as a detective or interrogator and the gossiper as a suspect. Just like a detective, ask questions that are not leading or suggestive, but instead build on what the person has said.[5] For example, after asking why he said that about you, ask "What were you hoping to accomplish?" or "Why did you think that person needed to hear that?"
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    Let him know how the gossip made you feel. While it might not change the gossiper's behavior, letting him know how it made you feel can help to make him think twice next time before spreading personal information or lies about someone else.
    • Try to frame your feelings in terms of yourself rather than focusing on him. You can do this by using "I" phrases rather than "you" phrases. For example, instead of saying, "You are so mean. You said really hurtful things," you can say, "I felt really targeted. I felt really hurt." This helps the person not feel defensive, so they are more likely to want to work things out with you.
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    Realize that some people don't care about other people's feelings. You may have gone to all this effort to confront the gossiper and now you've realized he truly doesn't care about your feelings and probably will continue to spread rumors about you.
    • Try to be the bigger person. You can't make people like you, or even be kind to you. All you can do is try to live a good life and be kind to others, so that when people like this spread mean rumors about you, other people will know not to trust his word over yours.

Part 3
Mending a Relationship After Gossip

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    Ask the person to make it right. If the person feels sorry for gossiping about you, ask them to show you that they are truly sorry by making it right.
    • If the gossip was not true, the person needs to retrace his steps and correct the misinformation he shared. That means he needs to remember every person he told the gossip and go back and tell them that it was not true.
    • If the gossip was true but didn't need to be shared, he still needs to apologize to you and show that he understands why he was wrong to share your personal information with others. If he can't do that, then you can bet he will do it again in the future because he clearly doesn't understand or acknowledge what he did wrong.
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    Be sure the person knows how badly he hurt you. When it comes to rebuilding a relationship after a betrayal, it is vital that the person in the wrong understands just how bad the action was. Make sure he can state, in his own words, why his actions violated your relationship.[6]
    • This may be more or less difficult depending on the nature of the gossip. Very serious, personal, or humiliating rumors and lies can be deeply emotionally disturbing and can ruin professional and romantic relationships, so be sure that this person knows exactly what damage the gossip has done.
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    Rebuild trust in the relationship. Once a friend has spread rumors about you or told your secrets without your permission, it can be hard to regain trust in that person. Be careful what you tell him in the future until you're sure you can trust him again.
    • Rebuilding trust involves getting to know each other more deeply and believing that the other person truly cares about you and wants no harm to come to you. If you don't spend time talking about your feelings, you will never rebuild trust.[7]
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    Recognize a relationship that can't be saved. Mistakes and errors in judgment can happen, but if this was not the first time this person gossiped about you, it probably won't be the last.
    • If this person's gossiping targets you consistently over time, or attacks you on the basis of your sexuality, religion, or minority status, consider whether it might be harassment and/or emotional abuse. Talk to someone in authority like a teacher, boss, or supervisor if you are struggling with gossip that makes it hard to go to school or work or interferes with your daily life.
    • Only you will know if the relationship is worth saving and if the person can ever be trusted again. If someone hurts you consistently, ask yourself whether that person actually values your friendship.[8]


  • If you're not comfortable with open confrontation, drop hints around them that let them know that you know exactly what's going on and you're not pleased.
  • Be sure to get the person alone in a room; this way they won't have to act tough around their friends.


  • Don't let the situation get out of hand. If the person wants to fight you or get angry or violent in any way, keep your cool and simply walk away.
  • Calling them names will worsen the situation; keep your cool!

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Categories: Managing Conflict and Difficult Interactions